01 November 2016

Figuring Out the Skeeter Situation

Before I booked a hotel in Santo Domingo, I spent hours on the internet going through reviews of hotels on Tripadvisor and other sites. Aside from price and location, I paid close attention to room pictures. I found it odd that not one hotel seemed to have mosquito nets over their beds. I was concerned that the hospitality industry here had headed in the same direction as they had in Vietnam.
On my last trip to Vietnam, I had noticed that quite a few hotels at the beach had dispensed with fans and mosquito nets, and had instead installed air conditioning. I was told that one no longer needed to leave the windows opened so there was no need for a fan or netting. Not my idea of a beach vacation. Not my idea of living anywhere, where you couldn’t leave the windows open all night.
On my first night in Santo Domingo, I kept looking around for mosquitoes, but didn’t see a one. I really didn’t believe that The Dominican Republic was mosquito free, but that seemed to be the case. After four days I still hadn’t caught any lurking about. And then they all must have hatched. They are tiny here and, thankfully, don’t make any noise. But it is rather disconcerting to see pockets of about one hundred of the critters hanging out at the head of your bed.
For most of my life, I was never really bothered by mosquitoes. Generally, they don’t like the way I taste, and I don’t get much of a reaction if they do bite me. And I have never really used bug repellant. The idea of spraying on some DDT type chemical, that stinks to high heaven, is rather off-putting. I only started to get slightly concerned about bug bites when I went to live in Malaysia.
Dengue. I heard the tales of horror, of the months of recovery, of the permanent damage to the body, and even death. For my first three months in Kuala Lumpur, I was freaked out by the thought of that nasty disease. But what can one do? I had a mosquito net over my bed and made sure there was no standing water on my small porch. And then I just forgot about it all.
It wasn’t until I was planning my trip to the DR that I again began to think about Dengue. I still had some leftover bug repellant that I had picked up at the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens. It did not stink – actually it had a rather pleasant scent.  But I also figured it was well past its shelf life and it can only be purchased in Mexico. (….darn…why hadn’t I checked for it while I was in the Mexico City airport?) Even so, I brought it along. And when the skeeters started munching me, I started slathering it on.
Unfortunately, either Dominican mosquitoes are immune to Mexican repellant, or it really is past its shelf life.  This morning I had about thirty little red bite marks. (mostly faded by the evening.) Before I did anything else today, I dropped by the bug aisle at the supermarket. There I found a product called Repelengue, 100% natural, no toxins. They had small travel bottles, and after testing that the spray did not have a vile smell, I bought one.
Once home, I went about spraying myself. For a moment I thought I had made a mistake as it had a powerful scent. I pinched my nose, stood directly under the ceiling fan, and a few minutes later the odor had dissipated. I now smell like I’m wearing Eau de Citronella, which is not bad at all. Now, let’s see if it works.
It was yesterday that I realized I should not have left my fish oil pills at home. When I was trying to decide which vitamin supplements I really needed to bring, I reasoned that fish oil was not one of them. I’d just eat fish here. I had completely forgotten that taking fish oil is known to leave an odor on your skin that the skeeters hate.
But back to skeeter nets; why don’t they seem to have them here? I plan to head down to the beach town of Boca Chica soon and am again checking out hotels. Not one hotel seems to have mosquito nets over the beds. I just don’t understand this. I feel totally naked sleeping in the tropics without a fairy net billowing over me. As hot as I was last night, I tried to keep myself incased in a sheet. I can’t do that again.
Update: The new spray seemed to work. Then again, there was a huge storm so maybe that was the reason the critters were scarce.
Also, the pictures posted here are obviously not those of mosquitos. They are of the oldest cathedral in the Americas. More on that later.